Previewing 2018-19 Aviva Premiership Season

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This Friday it will be another edition of the Aviva Premiership season as eleven squads will try their hand at dethroning the Saracens as champions. With hopes that it will be another exciting season, let’s take a look at each side competing in the 2018-19 campaign.

Bath

Bath is one of those squads that seems to have so much potential, but they always have a disappointing result to their season whether it’s just barely missing the playoffs or just underperforming after making the final in 2014-15. The squad lost one of their top players in Matt Banahan, but they also lost key players in Ben Taupai and Nick Auterac which could hamper them a bit this season. That being said, they did add Jamie Roberts and a young, but talented Joe Cokanasiga to compliment their talented side of Anthony Watson, Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Joseph, and Taulupe Faletau. Maybe they could claw their way into a playoff spot.

Bristol Bears (Promoted from RFU Championship)

Being the newly promoted side only gives more questions than answers, but the hope is that they can prove themselves to be a very formidable squad. They do boast some talent like Ian Madigan and Siale Piutau, but there still are too many questions as to whether they will do well this season. They have made a slew of moves as many have left, but a lot of come in including the legendary George Smith, who will make his move to the Aviva Premiership after the Super Rugby season concluded, and Charles Piutau who will be reunited with his brother.

Exeter Chiefs

Exeter came very close to winning the championship in 2017-18, but ultimately lost to the Saracens in the final even though they finished in first. The expectations are extremely high for them as for some fans its either winning the championship or bust. For three straight seasons they have reached the final so they will be looking to win their second championship in three campaigns. The team is led by Sam and Joe Simmonds, Sam Skinner, Jonny Hill, Santiago Cordero, Lachie Turner, Michele Campagnaro, Nic White, and the newest addition in Alex Cuthbert. This team should be back in the final.

Gloucester

Led by Johan Ackermann, Gloucester scored the most tries in their time in the Premiership last season and have a great offense. However, their defense is suspect as they conceded 73 tries in 2017-18 and because of their defense they failed to finish in the top half of the table. With additions of Danny Cipriani and Matt Banahan along with a few more signings, Gloucester could be a dark horse squad and might even get into the playoffs. The loss of Ross Moriarty will hurt this team the most, but with how good this side will be, it might only be miniscule.

Harlequins

There was a lot of promise for the Harlequins after winning a title back in 2011-12 and had two straight top four finishes, but have since disappointed. They hope to change it around for this campaign. The hope is that their breakout star Marcus Smith can continue his success and that Charlie Walker does more of the same. They did add Paul Lasike from the Utah Warriors of Major League Rugby, but they also brought in Nathan Earle, Nick Auterac, and Ben Tapuai. They did lose some big names like Jamie Roberts to Bath and Adam Jones to retirement. With this squad, there is some slight optimism.

Leicester Tigers

Leicester missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons as they finished fifth, but they should still be a favorite to return. They are incredibly talented especially with the likes of George Ford, Johnny May, and Tatafu Polota-Nau, plus they recruited the likes of David Denton and Guy Thompson as they should help improve the club. Keep an eye out for them this season as they could even be the dark horse to win the championship.

Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle had a great season in 2017-18 and are certainly on the rise, but some thought that it was a little fluky that they made it into the playoffs over Leicester. While talented, there are lot’s of questions. However, this season they look to continue that success and prove the critics wrong by getting back into the playoffs. Maybe their first ever appearance in the playoffs since it was introduced to the competition will make them even better. They boast some great players like Vereniki Goneva, Mark Wilson, Calum Green, and Kyle Cooper, plus they added some like Johnny Williams, Paul Mullen, and Logovi’i Mulipola. The loss of Juan Pablo Socino will hurt, but the hope is that they can mitigate that loss as much as possible.

Northampton Saints

While it wasn’t a great campaign last season, Northampton will hope to make some progress in 2018-19. They suffered their worst finish since they were relegated in 2006-07, but a climb up the table will be looked at positively no matter where they finish this season. Their offense seemed to struggle last season with Jamie Gibson being the only bright spot and it hurt that they lost Rob Horne who had to end his career early due to injuries, but they did add Dan Biggar, Ben Franks, James Haskell, and Taqele Naiyaravoro plus they have some young studs in Alex Moon, James Grayson, and Ehren Painter. The hope is that their veterans in Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, and Dylan Hartley pick up the slack.

Sale Sharks

While being one of the more talented sides in the league, they certainly haven’t showed much in the table after finishing eighth last season. There is some great names on the roster like AJ MacGinty, Faf de Klerk, James O’Connor, and Marland Yarde and they added a name like Chris Ashton, who is so explosive on offense, along with Rohan Janse van Rensburg, they should make them more exciting to watch. The losses of TJ Ioane and Will Addison should not be much of a factor with Ashton on the squad, but it would have been great had they stayed.

Saracens

The Saracens will be the team that every one will be gunning for this season as they are the defending champions and have been the champions for the third time in four campaigns. The hope is to make it four out of five in 2018-19. They boast a grand amount of talent that continues to make them the favorites as they have Jamie George, Mako Vunipola, Maro Itoje, Will Skelton, and Owen Farrell on the roster, plus they added David Strettle. This team is scary good.

Wasps

The Wasps are another very good team to watch in this league as they finished third in 2017-18. They have so many good players like Joe Launchbury, Willie le Roux, and Elliot Daly, plus they added some others like Brad Shields and Lima Sopoaga which makes them even better. They did lose some talented players like Guy Thompson, Danny Cipriani, and James Haskell, but they should have no problem making the playoffs again.

Worcester Warriors

This is a very frustrating team as they never seem to want to get better, but are satisfied with staying put instead of trying to improve. They also barely missed out on being relegated last season. With Ben Te’o, Josh Adams, and Francois Hougaard, there is some talent there plus they added Duncan Weir, Francois Venter, Callum Black, and Cornell du Preez. The losses of Andrew Durutalo, David Denton, Jackson Willison, and Will Spencer will have some affect on the team this season.

Predictions

James Rowe: I think the top will be more predictable than the bottom, that being said I believe this will be a very competitive season as you can expect many great battles for playoff spots and for relegation.

Final standings

  1. Saracens
  2. Exeter Chiefs
  3. Leicester
  4. Wasps
  5. Newcastle Falcons
  6. Bath
  7. Northampton
  8. Sale Sharks
  9. Gloucester
  10. Harlequins
  11. Bristol Bears
  12. Worcester Warriors

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